Congressional Fundraising: Investing in winners and losers without a strategy.

By Bruce Donnelly:

In 2016, Republican donors may invest roughly $30 million in the 18 Congressional district races in Illinois without actually having a strategy for achieving a better outcome. Much of the money will go to defend safe incumbents rather than to win Democratic districts.

Since Democratic voter turnout has historically been higher in presidential years as compared to midterm elections, the party is generally on the defensive. Candidates are left to defend their own positions, and relatively little is done to strategically target investment into competitive districts where gains could be made with an effective campaign to grow the Republican base.

As shown above, Republican donors have generously given significantly more money than Democrats in three of the last four presidential elections, but the number of Republican seats in Congress has steadily declined even as the donations have increased dramatically.

Why do successful people continue to invest in failure without considering the need to change their approach from business as usual, which keeps losing?

Every campaign is left to do fundraising largely on its own, so the money flows to incumbents who have a strong base of supporters from past campaigns.

The challengers in Democratic districts struggle to gain enough support to reach and persuade many new voters. Instead, they often lack the resources to mount a serious challenge, even as a grassroots volunteer campaign.

Note that the total number of Illinois Congressional districts has declined from 20 to 18 since 2000. Dominance of Illinois by progressive Democrats has demonstrable consequences.

The total has declined from a peak of 27 districts in 1940 to 18 today. That is a massive decline as business investment and job growth went elsewhere. Illinois peaked at that level in the 1910 Census. That means the relative economic size of Illinois by comparison to other states declined quite dramatically during the period of largely unchecked Democratic “progressive” policies in Springfield.

The rapid growth of Illinois from the Civil War to the Woodrow Wilson years was brought to an abrupt stop as other states became more attractive. The Illinois share of Congress declined with almost every Census since 1940. You can see this in the chart of declining Electoral College votes for Illinois as shown on the website at

Illinois was a Republican state for presidential elections from Lincoln to Reagan, but Democratic policies thwarted the “Reagan revolution” until we now face a serious fiscal crisis.